Barbara Astman, Artist Talk: Speaking for Herself

photo of Barbara Astman & Rosalie Favell
Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Barbara Astman

Artist Talk: Speaking for Herself Panel Discussion
Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 7 PM– 9 PM

Art Gallery of Hamilton
123 King Street West, Hamilton, Ontario

What are the concessions, accommodations, declarations or rebellions made by women-identified artists in response to the biases of the art word? How have these responses changed over the decades? Please join Barbara Astman, Rosalie Favell and other artists from Speaking For Herself exhibition take part in a panel moderated by AGH Senior Curator Tobi Bruce.
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Venue & Address: 
Art Gallery of Hamilton 123 King Street West Hamilton, ON

Barbara Astman in The 80s Image

Saturday, September 29, 2018 - 11:00am


If "video killed the radio star" in 1980, what impact did video have on traditional art media? The 80s Image explores the curious resiliency of painting and still-photography throughout the decade, and artists' responsiveness to the rapidly expanding media landscape-video, television, cinema, satellite and computer imagery, and billboard advertising. In this exhibition, you'll see approximately 50 works by Canadian artists whose paintings and photographs helped to define the 1980s, including Peter Doig, Wanda Koop, Ken Lum, General Idea, Eleanor Bond, Barbara Astman and many more.

Venue & Address: 
Winnipeg Art Gallery 300 Memorial Boulevard Winnipeg, Manitoba
photo banner on the outside of the gallery, woman in black with red additions

Visual radical Barbara Astman

Barbara Astman - Furworks from the Newspaper series
Barbara Astman

Barbara Astman
Barbara Astman

Barbara Astman’s photo-based artworks question what it means to exist, and often in unexpected ways. “My art practice is considered a research-based practice in which process plays a huge role in the outcome of what I make,” she says. “I make images that relate to the practice of photography. It’s camera art, photo-based art and I use other media.” 

Astman is internationally recognized as a visionary who has radicalized visual culture, and she enjoys a variety of challenges. Along with her lengthy international exhibition history spanning four decades, she’s a Faculty of Art professor, lecturer, curator and researcher, and is active in the Toronto arts community, serving on numerous boards and advisory committees.  

She also makes public art works. “I work with developers to create something specific for a building. It’s a very different process and it has to be accessible to the public,” she says. Her public art commissions include a series of photo-based images for 217 windows at the Murano on Bay in Toronto (2010) and a public art installation for the Canadian Embassy in Berlin (2005).  

Barbara Astman - Dancing with Che
Barbara Astman - Dancing with Che

Her main interest is her own studio-based practice. She’s working on a new series created using glass bottles and other objects as negatives that she prints in her analogue darkroom. Her touring exhibition, Dancing with Che: Enter Through the Gift Shop (2011), is comprised of 30 images that she commercially reproduced onto coffee mugs, T-shirts, book bags, postcards, keychains, commemorative plates and other objects. 

“I’m very active with exhibitions,” Astman says, noting that her work is part of the Photography in Canada: 1960-2000 exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada and also on view at the Canada Council Art Bank this year. “It’s important for students to see exhibitions. You can learn a lot by showing up to see shows and getting out to see art in the city,” she says. 

Barbara Astman - Furworks from the Newspaper series
Barbara Astman - Furworks from the Newspaper series

Teaching is important to Astman, and she brings her experimental approach to the classroom. “I encourage my students to break rules, risk failure and not to stick to what they already know. That’s how they can grow as artists,” she says. 

She tells her students to keep their minds open, and to come in with a positive attitude and strong work ethic. “People think being an artist is an easy thing, but it’s not. It’s a lot of work. People go to an exhibition and think, well I could do that, but you didn’t, I did. Even for myself I try to keep my mind open to the potential of what’s out there and what you can discover as an artist.” 

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Barbara Astman in Speaking for Herself

Saturday, March 10, 2018 - 9:30am

Speaking for Herself,  Art Gallery of Hamilton, March 2018 - March 2019

The longstanding exclusion of women artists from art history, exhibitions, collections, the art market and commercial gallery representation is not a debatable issue, it’s a fact. When exhibitions consist of only the work of men—the norm in gallery and museum exhibitions and collections—they are not identified as such because they don’t have to be. We don’t see titles like Men Artists from the Collection. In an effort to bring the work of women artists back into the conversation, Speaking for Herself mines the AGH collection to bring together significant work by significant artists who identify as women.

We wish to explore our holdings—historical, modern and contemporary—in a range of material practices including painting, photography, sculpture, and installation. The project features the achievements of both known or recognized artists while introducing lesser-knowns into the discussion. These conversations between historical and contemporary artists of diverse cultural backgrounds explore a broad range of themes including the body, identity, materiality, and private versus public selves.

In the spirit and momentum of this empowering historical moment for women around the world, we are very proud to present an exhibition that foregrounds the artistic voices of so many intelligent, perceptive, witty, strong, and creative women.

Monday Closed (open select holidays)
Tuesday Closed (Group Tours only)
Wednesday 11 am – 6 pm
Thursday 11 am – 8 pm
Friday 11 am – 6 pm
Saturday 12 pm – 5 pm
Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm


Venue & Address: 
Art Gallery of Hamilton 123 King Street West Hamilton ON, L8P 4S8 T: (905) 527-6610 F: (905) 577-6940 E:
photo series of a woman in a white t-shirt

Barbara Astman in Living, Building, Thinking: art and expressionism

close up crop photo of a woman's face
Saturday, March 3, 2018 - 11:00am to Monday, May 21, 2018 - 5:00pm

The term Expressionism is invariably associated with the period of art and social activism in Germany between 1905 and 1937, encompassing visual art, literature, philosophy, theatre, film, photography and architecture. In the context of an expanded view on the subject, Living, Building, Thinking offers a rich and thought-provoking perspective on the relationships between artists and societies, and the ever-changing responses and visual expressions that circulate through shared hopes and aspirations for social awareness and change.

Living, Building, Thinking is comprised of more than 90 works in all mediums, including examples of European art from the 16th to early 20th centuries by William Blake, Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch. Also highlighted are striking works from the German Expressionist and Weimar period, as well as mid-to-late 20th century European paintings by artists like Jörg Immendorf, Anslem Kiefer and Sigmar Polke. Canadian contemporary works by artists such as Barbara Astman, Natalka Husar, Nancy Johnson, Gary Pearson and Tony Scherman demonstrate the lasting legacies of Expressionism.

Organized and circulated by the McMaster Museum of Art and curated by Dr. Ihor Holubizky, Senior Curator 

Visionary Partners for Historical Exhibitions:
Huaijun Chen and Family

This project is supported by the Museums Assistance Program at Canadian Heritage/Ce projet est appuyé dans le cadre du Programme d’aide aux musées de Patrimoine canadien

Venue & Address: 
Vancouver Art Gallery 750 Hornby Street Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7

Barbara Astman part of the Look Forward initiative at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Photo of a person smoking
Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 11:00am to Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 6:00pm

Did you know the AGO collection – both on display and in the vaults – has a total of nearly 95,000 works?  Curators are strategically adding to that number by acquiring key pieces, supported by the generosity of donors and collectors who share the mission to bring people together with great art.

To keep you up to date with what’s new in the Gallery and as part of the Look:Forward initiative, they’ve created a gallery space dedicated to showing many recent acquisitions. Located in Irina Moore Gallery West on Level 2 of the AGO – head up the scissor stairs and take a right down the hallway – this exhibit will rotate every few months.

Right now two key works from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Town (1999) and Butterfly (1985) are on display. Both works are colourful screen prints and feature Kusama’s signature polka dot motif. Kusama once said, “Our earth is only one polka dot among millions of others…we must forget ourselves with polka dots! We most lose ourselves in the ever-advancing stream of eternity.” In Butterfly, she uses contrasting psychedelic colours to appeal to our sensory imagination – and you may wonder if the butterfly is flying through space or if it’s caught in a net. Many more works by Kusama will be featured in the upcoming show, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, opening on March 3.

On a nearby wall, you’ll spot two works by Barbara Astman, Dear Jared (1979-80) and Untitled (1981). Astman is an American-born artist who moved to Toronto to study at the Ontario College of Art (now OCADU) in 1970. Though the works were created only a few years apart, Dear Jared and Untitled highlight a shift in Astman’s practice: a move away from using text in her work and towards a focus on the symbolism of objects in her photographs.

Alongside these works, you’ll also see Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup I (1968), Jasper Johns’s Two Flags (1980) and Roy Lichtenstein’s Two Paintings: Dagwood (1984), all of which were acquired in the last year, thanks to a generous donation from Margaret and Jim Fleck.

Venue & Address: 
Art Gallery of Ontario 317 Dundas St. West Irina Moore Gallery West on Level 2 Toronto, ON

FOA Sabbatical Presentations: Barbara Astman, Richard Fung, Luke Painter & b.h. Yael

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 12:30pm to 2:30pm

Faculty of Art Sabbatical Presentations by Barbara Astman, Richard Fung, Luke Painter and b.h. Yael

Tuesday November 28, 12:30 – 2:30pm


BARBARA ASTMAN, PROFESSOR, PHOTOGRAPHY:  Professor Barbara Astman’s sabbatical objectives were based on furthering and expanding her practice based research. One of her objectives was to spend time in the darkroom to examine abstraction though the photogram process. The darkroom is her research laboratory and the methodology includes an examination of the material and tools available to create with hand made negatives in the darkroom. The negatives used for this research were clear glass, mainly figural vessels.   This methodology allowed for a greater questioning and reassessment of the potential of the photogram in image making, as well as allow for the art to thrive and progress.  This exploration also incorporated digital intervention as part of the study. The darkroom was our research laboratory and the methodology included an examination of the materials and tools available and or invented to fully utilize hand made negatives, using glass figural objects in both the colour and black and white darkrooms at OCAD U. 

RICHARD FUNG, PROFESSOR, INTEGRATED MEDIA/ART & SOCIAL CHANGE:  In 2013, Professor Richard Fung received a four-year SSHRC Insight research-creation grant, the principal deliverable of which was a feature length documentary, Re:Orientations, which revisits participants from my 1984 video Orientations: Lesbian and Gay Asians three decades later. The film considers the shifts and continuities in identities, politics and conditions facing people at that particular intersection of race, gender, sexuality and class. The fourth year of the project was designed for what SSHRC describes as knowledge mobilization, and that was the principal activity for my sabbatical year. In short, this involved organizing screenings and discussions of the resulting documentary film Re:Orientations at festivals, universities and community groups in Canada and internationally. During the year he also wrote a number of texts and realized another documentary film Nang by Nang. 

LUKE PAINTER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DRAWING & PAINTING/ DIGITAL PAINTING & EXPANDED ANIMATION:  Luke Painter’s presentation will discuss two different but connected works created during his sabbatical: Modern Wand and The Teasers and the Tormenters. The Teasers and the Tormentors is a 3D animation that references and continuously transforms set designs from 20th century theatre, film and   illusion shows.  The work travels across different time periods, exploring the tensions between competing movements and making tangential, formal and narrative connections between references.  Through the use of mirrors in the animation, the viewer’s perspective shows the action outside of the camera frame which becomes a reflexive technique that allows the viewer a sense of awareness of the space beyond the set. Modern Wand is a number of sculptures that are amalgams and translations of historical design objects and furniture. They are fabricated in glass and wood through traditional and laser cut techniques and rest on a series of interconnecting and raised carpeted platforms. These sculptures convey organic, ornamental and anthropomorphic sensibilities with the appearance of holding the body and also physically suggesting the body at the same time.  The work offers a space for the viewer to imagine the often-contrasting themes of functionality and fantasy that played out in the 20th century in relation to art and design practices.  

b.h. YAEL, PROFESSOR, INTEGRATED MEDIA/ART & SOCIAL CHANGE: In her report of activities during her half-sabbatical, b.h. Yael will reference a number of projects, some completed and culminating over a few years of work, and others initiated and still in process of research and development. One work follows up on previous work around the politics of Israel/ Palestine, this time a consideration of images of witness and how these are perceived; the majority of the work is autobiographical in various media forms: documentation through a completed website, experimental animation, memoire writing, and photography.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD U 100 McCaul St., RM. 460, Toronto, ON
red hand on red background
photo of male dance in pose on the floor
image of colourful doors
illustration of woman reading

Barbara Astman exhibiting in: Photography in Canada 1960 - 2000

photo of house with green shutters
text and photo of woman
Friday, April 7, 2017 - 10:00am to Sunday, September 17, 2017 - 6:00pm

Barbara Astman exhibitiing in: Photography in Canada 1960 - 2000

Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa,ON

Photography in Canada:

07 April – 17 September 2017

Experience the diversity of Canadian photographic practice and production from 1960 to 2000. Bringing together more than 100 works by 71 artists — including Raymonde April, Edward Burtynsky, Lynne Cohen, Angela Grauerholz, Michael Snow, Jeff Wall and Jin-me Yoon — it explores how the medium articulated the role of art and the artist in an ever-changing world, along with differing ideas of identity, sexuality and community. Formulated around themes such as conceptual, documentary, urban landscape and portrait, this exhibition celebrates the enormous growth of the practice, collection and display of photography over more than four decades.

Barbara Astman is a Professor in the Photography department of the Faculty of Art.  Her area(s) of expertise include Contemporary Photography, Digital Imaging, and Installation-Based Art.

Venue & Address: 
Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada 380 Sussex Drive, P.O. Box 427 Station A, Ottawa, Ontario Canada, K1N 9N4
1-800-319-ARTS 613-990-1985 TDD: 613-990-0777

Barbara Astman makes longlist for the 2017 Scotiabank Photography Award

Photo of Woman in black shirt, with red ping pong ball and paddle
Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 10:15am

Eleven nominees were recently announced for the 2017 Scotiabank Photography Award. The award winner will receive a $50,000 prize, a major solo exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto and have a book of their work published and distributed by Steidl of Germany.

This year’s nominees are:

Vikky Alexander, Vancouver, British Columbia, Raymonde April, Montréal, Québec, Barbara Astman, Toronto, Ontario, Valérie Blass, Montréal, Québec, Dana Claxton, Vancouver, British Columbia, Marlene Creates, Portugal Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador, Donigan Cumming, Montréal, Québec, Nancy Davenport, Vancouver, British Columbia, Rosalie Favell, Ottawa, Ontario, Shelley Niro, Brantford, Ontario, Jeff Thomas, Ottawa, Ontario

Artists from across Canada were nominated for the SPA by a range of art professionals: Daina Augaitis, chief curator and associate director of the Vancouver Art Gallery; Mireille Eagan, curator of contemporary art at the Rooms in St. John’s; Heather Igloliorte, associate professor and Concordia University Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement; Ken Lum, professor and chair of the department of fine art at the University of Pennsylvania; Patrick Mahon, artist and professor of visual art at Western University; Wanda Nanibush, assistant curator of Canadian and Indigenous art at the Art Gallery of Ontario; Jenifer Papararo, executive director of the Plug In ICA in Winnipeg; Brenda Francis Pelkey, professor in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor; Jonathan Shaughnessy, associate curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa; Liz Wylie, curator of the Kelowna Art Gallery; and John Zeppetelli, director and chief curator of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.

The shortlist will be announced in March, and the winner will be announced in May.

Last year’s winner was Suzy Lake, and previous SPA winners include Stan Douglas, Arnaud Maggs and Lynne Cohen.

Barbara Astman is a Professor in the Photography Department at OCAD University, her areas of expertise include  Contemporary Photography, Digital Imaging, Installation-Based Art.

For more information:,,6336,00.html


Barbara Astman, Faculty of Art, to participate in: Stare

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 5:00am to Sunday, January 22, 2017 - 5:00am

Barbara Astman, Faculty of Art, to participate in: Stare

From the collection

October 29, 2016 to January 22, 2017


Featured artists: Roy Arden | Barbara Astman | Bernd and Hilla Becher | Karin Bubaš | Dana Claxton | John Coplans | Denes Devenyi | Philip-Lorca diCorcia | Rineke Dijkstra | Patrick Faigenbaum | Larry Fink | Arni Haraldsson | Fred Herzog | Barrie Jones | Barbara Probst | Anne Ramsden | Mark Ruwedel | Reece Terris | Jeff Wall | O Zhang


Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art.

Venue & Address: 
The Vancouver Art Gallery
Poster for STARE, black and white photo of a hand plus exhibition text